Last Wednesday, I was invited for a press dinner. This, at a great eclectic tapas place with some molecular gastronomy thrown in. And a nice wine selection to flow with the tapas, with only a beer at the beginning.
The one thing I’ll definitely remember about Nai is that it tickled my nose senses like no other place in recent times. The taste confirmed that the food was as good as it smelled. And the presentations? See for yourself!
I kick-started with a pomegranate sangria. Nice and refreshing.
Esterificacion de Aceituna – olive spherification
Molecular gastronomy in play here! The little sphere popped open as you put it on your tongue, shouting olive. Everyone on the table went, “Wow!”
I think that kind of set the tone for the evening.
Ommegang beer, a saison ale from Cooperstown
Tabla de Quesos – a cheese platter with machego, tetillla, murcia al vino, idiazabal, roncal.
It was complete with a cow cheese, goat cheese, sheep cheese and all. Perfectly served and complete with almonds, apple, bread with jam and the quince paste cubes which I just loved. Such a great combination. I’m not ‘big’ on all kinds of cheeses, certainly can’t enjoy sharp ones. All of these were just perfect for me. I loved them all. On further inquiry, they informed us that they source these cheeses from Spain.
Bread & Olive Oil
It was nice and soft. Even the crust was relatively easy to bite.
MiniAirbags Rellenas de Queso Manchego – mini pastry puff style, stuffed with manchego foam.
A nice, crunchy, buttery flaky exterior with a super light cheese foam inside. Love the designer plate to highlight the light uni-colored food!
Pisto Manchego – Spanish style ratatouille.
It smelled divine, as soon as he placed it in front of me. I polished it.
Cava, sparkling Catalonian wine with lemon rind mint and the likes.
Salteado de Setas – sautéed mushrooms with piquillo peppers and white wine sauce.
Again, you could smell the peppers. I don’t remember last when I went to a restaurant that wasn’t Indian where the smell was that apparent. And I mean it in a good way.
Ravioli di Calabacin – grilled zucchini stuffed with goat cheese topped with crispy dates.
With caramelized onions and all, it was a nice mix of crunch, sweetness, cheesiness, softness and all.
Sandia Impregnada con Sangria. This was a palette cleanser sangria infused watermelon.
Patatas Cabrales – potatoes in a cabrales sauce.
I thought this cheese was a bit not to my liking. I would’ve enjoyed the patatas bravas more – the good old!
Coles de Bruselas – brussel sprouts in a spicy mustard aioli topped with fresh apples in an orange emulsion.
The brussel sprouts were superbly crisp and this was by far the best presentation of burssel sprouts that I have seen. I could have done with a bit more of the mustard aioli for packing some more flavor to it. Otherwise, great.
Caramelo de Algodon – pear cotton candy.
An absolute melt in mouth. Not something I expected, and the little portion was perfect.
Churros Rellenos de Chocolate – chocolate filled churros.
The churros were stuffed with chocolate and nutella, then fried. Not extremely sweet, to please more people.
I thoroughly enjoyed the food. If you’re a vegetarian and in NYC, don’t think that Spanish tapas is a foreign concept. Here’s something that happened earlier that evening.
Do you eat cheese? The chef is crafting a vegetarian menu for you.
Yes , I do.
Eggs? Do you eat eggs? The chef is going all out for you.
Yes, as long as I don’t see it. No omelettes or scrambled eggs.
End result – a wonderful meal.
Restaurateur, chef and co-owner Ruben Rodriguez made an appearance with the last dessert course. We had the very affable co-owner, wine director and general manager David Martinez attending to us through the whole evening. Add it to a warm staff. And you have a great experience.
Keep in mind that they change their menu seasonally. And they’re bringing a lot of new things, tastes and techniques as they expand on to the second level of their outpost.
Mondays to Wednesdays are sangria nights. And they have an interesting selection for sangrias. Thursdays and Saturdays are flamenco nights.
If you want to go there and would like to eat vegetarian, make a reservation in advance and let them know you’d like to eat what the vegetarian girl ate =)
If you’d like me to tell them for you, drop me a note and I’ll gladly do =)